Supporting the contaminated land community

Article Contaminated Land by

Dealing with uncertainty and heterogeneity in the risk-based land management process continues to present challenges for the contaminated land community.  The up front investment required to more accurately define risk is sometimes difficult to communicate to all stakeholders involved in projects which can, in some instances, lead to regretful compromises.

 

The EA’s MCerts Policy has increased confidence

Application of the Environment Agency’s MCerts Policy, which standardised laboratory based analytical procedures, has delivered increased confidence in the outputs of samples analysed by laboratories, however the relative cost per sample continues to offer opposition to increasing sampling density. This challenge is recognised by many, including the Environment Agency, however, there is a growing body of evidence to support the conclusion that greater emphasis needs to be placed upon overcoming it if we are to continue to develop potentially contaminated sites whilst eliminating risk and future liabilities

 

Added value…

Portable field analytical tools are, therefore, being increasingly considered to have an important role in supporting the community overcome this challenge. Their appropriate application can offer many added-value and commercial benefits. These include:

 

  • more rapid and cost effective determination of spatial and temporal variations (i.e. heterogeneity);
  • the optimisation of sampling strategies for subsequent laboratory analysis which, ultimately, increase the quality of site data and confidence; and
  • in the right circumstances, they can even enable on-site decision making, thereby dramatically saving time and money.

 

Such tools have been available for several decades and have been rigorously applied in other environmental fields, such as the trade effluent and stack emission monitoring.  However, their application in the contaminated land sector has been relatively low to date. There are many rational reasons for this, including a lack of awareness and confidence in their application, due, in part, to a lack of case history providing technical and economic evidence; a lack of available skills within the practitioner community; and a limited level of acceptance in their application and interpretation throughout the community.

 

FASA workshop

To this end, FASA, the Field Analytical Suppliers Association, hosted x4, one-day workshops this year, to provide attendees with a practical introduction to field analytical tools.

 

These events included:

  • the provision of information related to how they fit within the UK regulatory framework, kindly provided by Bob Barnes and Brian Bone from the Environment Agency;
  • an overview of available tools and case study information detailing the application of five of the most commonly applied; and
  • attendees were provided with the opportunity to see the tools for themselves and gain answers to their individual needs during afternoon demonstration surgeries.

 

What is FASA?

FASA is an independent body created to support the efforts of regulators, industry and laboratories in the management of potentially contaminated environments. It is funded and coordinated by suppliers and manufacturers of field tools in the UK and is supported and administered by IPM-Net.

The workshops described form part of its commitment to assist the community gain an informed understanding of the application of field analytical tools and their appropriate use. FASA aims to further assist the community by working with key stakeholders to develop guidelines, training material, best practice QC/QA procedures as well as technique specific information, such as case studies and evaluations.

 

Following analysis of the attendees’ feedback from the workshops it is clear that such information will assist the community, with 81% and 77% stating that the lack of available guidance and performance information, respectively, were barriers to their uptake. Their perceived costs, a lack of regulation and a lack of information on how to use field tools were, individually, seen as barriers to 60% of attendees.

 

New guidance being developed

The Environment Agency is currently developing guidance on the use of field analytical tools within the risk-based approach to land contamination. This document will discuss, amongst other aspects, the application of field tools in the context of sampling and analytical plans, fit for purpose decision making, building lines of evidence and informing conceptual site models. The first draft is likely to be circulated to the FASA committee by the end of this year, with further release anticipated to occur in the Spring of 2007.

 

For further information contact:

 

Mr Perry Guess , FASA Chairman

Tel:               01865 610504

E-mail:          perry.guess@earth.ox.ac.uk

 

FASA representatives will give a presentation at the next Contaminated Land WG (20 February 2007) on the use of field analytical tools.